‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: What Happened to Jed Clampett’s Wife, Rose Ellen?

by Joe Rutland
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Did you know that “The Beverly Hillbillies” lead character Jed Clampett had a wife? Well, he did but she never appears on the show.

Why did this happen? According to beverlyhillbillies.fandom.com, Jed was married to a woman named Rose Ellen but she died. She was Elly May’s mother. There is one lone reference to her in the CBS sitcom’s episode “Duke Steals A Wife.” It comes during the first season’s 22nd show as both Jed and his dog Duke are feeling down about the topic of love.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” was the creation of Paul Henning, who also would go on to create “Green Acres” and “Petticoat Junction.” All three shows were a part of CBS’s lineup through the 1960s and early 1970s.

Jed, obviously, was played by Buddy Ebsen. Other cast members included Irene Ryan as Granny, Donna Douglas as Elly May, and Max Baer Jr. as Jethro Bodine.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Attracts TV Viewers From Its Debut In 1962

When the show first appeared on CBS in 1962, it attracted an audience from the get-go. The good-natured humor apparently was something that appealed to TV viewers at that time. “The Beverly Hillbillies” would find itself as one of CBS’s top-ranking shows during its nine-season run. It ended up being cut from the network lineup in 1971 as CBS dumped all of its “rural” shows.

They, along with a number of its successful variety shows, were given pink slips since the network wanted to go in a more serious direction with programming.

Still, you will be hard-pressed to find any classic TV fan who hasn’t seen at least one episode of “The Beverly Hillbilllies.” It remains, to this day, a staple in the land of TV reruns.

Ebsen Was All Set To Play ‘Tin Man’ In ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Ebsen had quite the career, though. He did find himself playing Jed Clampett for nine seasons, then went on to star in another CBS series called “Barnaby Jones.” In that one, he played a private investigator alongside actress Lee Meriweather.

But it might be for a role that he didn’t finish that Ebsen is remembered by some fans. Ebsen was originally penciled in to be the “Tin Man” in the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz.” Yes, he was set up to star alongside Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, and Ray Bolger. One thing which continued to happen on the set, though, was his makeup would run.

The makeup used on “The Beverly Hillbillies” star would streak on his face. Makeup artists would use aluminum dust to keep it from streaking. Ebsen, though, was allergic to aluminum. It caused him to have a serious physical reaction that led him to be put under an oxygen tent.

MGM, the studio overseeing the movie, didn’t believe Ebsen was sick. So they took him out of the movie and replaced him with Jack Haley. It was one of his career’s low points. Later on, though, Ebsen learned that some of the long shots done for the movie featured his “Tin Man.”

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